Mike Hazen‚Äôs role with the Boston Red Sox may have expanded, but make no mistake: he‚Äôs still very much in touch with what‚Äôs moving and shaking down on the farm.
Promoted to vice president of player development prior to the season, a position that involves overseeing the minor-league operation and amateur scouting, Hazen spoke Wednesday about some of the storylines that have crept up over the past 4 ¬Ĺ months as they relate to the Pawtucket Red Sox.
On the status of the upper levels of the system in wake of the Erik Bedard deal at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline and the offseason trade that brought Adrian Gonzalez to Boston (Note: Of the eight players Boston surrendered between the two deals, five had reached Double A.):
Mike Hazen: ‚ÄúAnytime there‚Äôs 3-for-1 or 4-for-1 deals, it‚Äôs going to hurt the system a little bit. You just need the younger guys from the lower levels to step in. Right now with the combination of the (Bedard) trade and some injuries, we‚Äôre kind of hemorrhaging players a little bit.‚ÄĚ
On Pawtucket‚Äôs ability to make a serious playoff push while dealing with the usual slew of call-ups/injuries that can disrupt continuity:
MH: ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs been good to see Pawtucket maintain its level of play these last few months even though they‚Äôve been banged up here and there. To get [outfielder Ryan] Kalish back has probably helped and hopefully he‚Äôll be healthy for the stretch run. It‚Äôs fun to watch these guys play well in a challenging environment.‚ÄĚ
On the PawSox blending winning with developing in 2011, two traits that don‚Äôt always function simultaneously in the minors:
MH: ‚ÄúIf the major-league team takes too many of your guys, the Triple-A team can really get crushed, but it‚Äôs good to see these guys stay together. The major-league team has stayed relatively healthy over the second half, so it‚Äôs good to watch these kids win and develop together.‚ÄĚ
On whether the Red Sox would put off making any September call-ups in the event the PawSox qualify for the International League postseason:
MH: ‚ÄúThey‚Äôll probably be some guys who go right away [following the conclusion of the regular season] and some who go after.‚ÄĚ
On the decision behind bringing pitcher Alex Wilson up from Double-A with so little time left in the regular season:
MH: ‚ÄúFor starters, Pawtucket is going for a playoff spot and they‚Äôre going to need pitching in the playoffs. Plus, Alex was Portland‚Äôs best starter. He‚Äôs been in [the Eastern League] for the last year-and-a-half and we felt like it was time for him to take the next step.‚ÄĚ
On whether Lars Anderson‚Äôs increased power production can be traced to slugger Ryan Lavarnway hitting in front of him or becoming increasingly familiar with I.L. pitching (Note: nine of Anderson‚Äôs 13 home runs have come since Lavarnway was promoted to Pawtucket on June 13.):
MH: ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs probably due to the maturation of the hitter and learning the league a little bit and getting comfortable with his surroundings. But probably having someone come up and been as hot as Lavarnway has been probably doesn‚Äôt hurt.‚ÄĚ
On whether the power stroke Ryan Lavarnway has shown throughout the season has caught anyone in the organization off-guard.
MH: ‚ÄúSure, the production is nice (Lavarnway entered Wednesday with 30 HRs between Portland and Pawtucket), but the quality at-bats at Triple-A and the consistency he‚Äôs shown, that‚Äôs what we‚Äôre looking for. We don‚Äôt ask guys when they go to a new place to try and hit home runs; it‚Äôs just a product of what they‚Äôre doing. Ryan has done that more often than that so it‚Äôs good to see.‚ÄĚ
On not putting too much stock in the batting average of prized shortstop Jose Iglesias (Note, Iglesias was hitting .231 heading into Wednesday‚Äôs action):
MH: ‚ÄúWe‚Äôll throw out those numbers for right now. Certainly we‚Äôre focusing on the quality of the plate appearances and in the last few weeks he‚Äôs actually done a very good job in that area. He‚Äôs going to hit as he gets stronger and gets more mature. His defense has been outstanding. We knew that patience was going to be important this year.‚ÄĚ
On making sure Ryan Kalish doesn‚Äôt overdue it after missing over 100 games with shoulder/neck ailments:
MH: ‚ÄúYou always worry about something happening, especially given how hard Ryan plays. He‚Äôs just got to make the most of his opportunities as he gets back up to game speed.‚ÄĚ
On giving Junichi Tazawa a taste of Triple-A ball after the Japanese pitcher spent most of the season working his way back from Tommy John surgery:
MH: ‚ÄúIt gets back him to the place where he was prior to getting called up [in 2009]. He‚Äôs done a good job so far [4 1/3 scoreless innings with Pawtucket, all coming in relief] and we‚Äôll see how things fall at the end of the season.‚ÄĚ
On Felix Doubront‚Äôs injury-marred season:
MH: ‚ÄúObviously the injuries have been a little bit of a disappointment for everybody. It‚Äôs been a challenge with him not being able to be out there, but he‚Äôs back out there now and for the most part is throwing the ball well. Whatever the major-league team needs at whatever period of time, I think Felix will be ready if he‚Äôs in fact the guy who goes up. He just needs to keep pitching at this point and rack up as many innings as possible.‚ÄĚ